Posted on April 21st, 2011 by annakjarzab
(Sidenote before I even begin: My computer is doing this weird thing where everything is bold right now? I don’t understand. Why is the Internet so wonky?)
This past weekend, I had the best writing experience of my life. I’ve been working on my next book, which is a soft sci-fi that will (hopefully) expand into some sort of a multi-book series (duet? trilogy? WHO KNOWS THE POSSIBILITIES ARE INFINITE LOL INSIDE JOKE), for a little over three months now. I talked a little bit about it back when I first started it, when I was racing through it at a breakneck pace, but then I sort of hit a wall around page 200 because…I didn’t know how the rest would go. I was having some momentary trouble with a character who gets introduced about halfway in, but then I figured him out, and the rest of the plot, and the juices really started flowing. Still, there’s a limit to what I can get done on the weekdays, because of my steady employment and whatnot, so it wasn’t until last Friday that I really dropped into the zone and started pounding out the pages.
The only thing I did for two days was write. Oh, and have one dinner with my friend Cambria, and G-chatted with Alex. Basically our conversation went like this:
Me: I’m at [this spot in the manuscript].
Me: [Such and such] is happening!
Me: [So and so] is doing [such and such]!
Her: OMG HOW ARE YOU WRITING SO FAST YOU CRAZY PERSON?
And so on until 1:15 AM on Monday morning, when I typed the last words (“So we did.”). I was buzzing, high on adrenaline, desperate to tell someone–so I woke up my roommate (who in my defense had only gone to bed a little while before) to tell her. She was like, “That’s nice, let’s talk about it in the zzzzzzzzzz.” Then I had a dance party in my room to “Coming Home” by P. Diddy, as you do (headphones in, of course, I’m not the worst roommate ever). Then I couldn’t sleep until 4:00 AM. Then I went to work four hours later.
And now it’s several days later, Joanna has the full MS and Danielle is reading the partial I sent a few weeks ago, and I’m…working on the sequel. Because I’m still so excited about the story and I can’t wait to keep going! Now I just have to figure out what to call it on this blog while I’m talking about it, because I’m superstitious about titles. Hm. I guess I’ll just call it Book 3 for now. Who knows? Maybe by the time I have an update it’ll be sold and announced and I can just call it by its real title!
Posted on February 23rd, 2011 by annakjarzab
So as regular readers may know, my comments tool is trashed for some reason and every comment that’s left here needs to be approved, but I don’t get approval notices, it just pretends that it’s spam. So I often don’t see comments until way after the fact, but anyway Shannel said on my final Watson post:
I love that Jeopardy follows up Watson with Teen Jeopardy… I’m sure this was intentional to make us all feel a little more accomplished… GLEE category for example!
Which, first off: yes. I really think that’s why they did it, or at least that’s how I feel watching Teen Jeopardy! after the smackdown that was the MAN VS. MACHINE!!! tournament–can you call it a tournament when it’s only two games? Anyway. But here’s a question for all you Jeopardy! lovers out there: why does Teen Jeopardy! look like it was shot in the late nineties?
Alex Bracken suggests that it’s because part of the test for getting on Teen Jeopardy! is having to build a time machine to take you back to the nineties in order to compete. Which is as good an explanation as any, I guess. Also: teens love lower case sans serif bubble fonts in pink and green, I guess?!
I’m actually behind on Jeopardy! so those are my only current thoughts. The Teen tournament is probably over or almost over by now, and I need to catch up. Although, no, I actually have another thought, re: the first episode of Teen Jeopardy! In the Double Jeopardy round there was a category called What Kids Are Reading These Days or something, and while it was illuminating as to what the Jeopardy! writers think kids are reading these days, it also was weird how the contestants completely avoided that category until ALL the other questions were gone and they didn’t have a choice. Why is that? First of all, the questions were softballs, and second of all, do these kids not read? They’re on Jeopardy! They MUST read, at least the girl contestant (sorry to stereotype, but women buy like 80% of books or something, so it’s really just facts). I thought that was weird.
Anyway, some other things happening in my life: Hallelujah is going to my editor, I think, so that’s good. I’m super, super nervous about it because we all know what happened the last time I turned in a book to my editor, but whatever! Can’t think about that!
Also, I started a new book. On January 31, 2011. I know this because I date all of my drafts from the first day I create the document. I currently have 200 pages. That is RIDICULOUSLY fast for me. I’ve never written so much so fast, probably ever in my life. I’m having the best time writing this book, for a few reasons. First of all, it’s not promised to anyone, nor do I need it to fill a slot in an already signed contract, so I can just write it. For myself. It’s really bad right now, too, so I wouldn’t show it to anyone. There’s this piece of advice writers give each other that goes something like “Give yourself permission to be bad.” I don’t ever say that to people nor do I like it as a piece of advice, although I don’t have a coherent answer for why that is, but in this case I’m just chugging along with the ms no matter how bad I know it is. And it is bad in places. It’s riddled with inconsistencies and logical errors, the world is underdeveloped and contradictory, and one character is foiling me entirely, but I’m continuing to write him even though I know it’s not right (I’m close, and I understand him, but it’s not finding its way to the page), and I’m going forward in the ms even though I know about the inconsistencies and the logical errors and the underdeveloped world. I’m just too excited to stop and fix anything. I want to find out what happens and put it away. Maybe I’ll never pull it out again, or maybe it’ll be my third book. I like the fact that I can just enjoy the process of discovering it without all the pressure of what it’s going to become or who’s going to like it. It’s so far outside my normal ken it’s possible I’ll never show it to anyone at all. It’s pretty cool to just enjoy writing again.
Here are a few random bits of potpourri about this current book, again just for fun:
- It sparked a long and ongoing conversation with my Ho-fficial Historian, Alex Bracken, about the Revolutionary War, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and geography of the United States
- I spent a lot of time last night brushing up on my chess using this Wikipedia article
- I’m writing the book using the Normal View in Microsoft Word. I don’t know why–I’m normally a strict adherent of Page View–but Page View, to me, represents restrictions and boundaries and pressure, where as Normal View, because it’s ugly and weird and everything is so bizarrely left-justified even though there’s SO! MUCH! ROOM! on the other side of the page, makes me feel like I’m just goofing off and having fun
- The Man in the Iron Mask
And that’s what’s happening over here.
Posted on February 14th, 2011 by annakjarzab
So as you know, I finished my most recent draft of The Opposite of Hallelujah a week ago and sent it to my agent. It’s at this point, when you’re a writer, that you end up sitting in your pajamas on a Saturday morning wondering, “What do I do NOW?” That’s if, like, you’re single and childless–I’m sure authors who are also parents have plenty to do with the time they usually spend writing. Anyway, I don’t have children and I’m all caught up on my TV, so I did two things this weekend: I read, and I wrote.
First I finally finished Brother/Sister, which is this CRAZY mystery told from alternating perspectives. Is it really a mystery? I’m not too sure about what to call it. It’s certainly a thriller, perhaps a psychological thriller? Anyway, it has these two narrators who are both unreliable in their own ways, the writing is really great and the suspense is really well done and subtle. And then–AND THEN–the end of the book turns everything that you think you know about what happened completely on its head! I was out singing karaoke on Saturday for my friend Monica’s birthday and I didn’t get home until 4 AM, but if you don’t think I stayed up even later to finish Brother/Sister then you don’t know me very well. I also read a really great manuscript for a book we’re publishing in Fall 2011 and it was ALSO awesome and totally scary. I’m shocked I didn’t have nightmares last night.
I also started working on a book that I’ve been thinking about writing for a while. It’s basically a sci-fi thriller and I am LOVING writing it. The best part about writing it is that I don’t have to ever show it to a single person (except maybe Alex, who might kill me if I don’t let her read it after all the talking we’ve been doing about it). It’s mine. I don’t owe to anyone, and I don’t have to worry about other people liking it. Of course at some point I probably will worry about those things, and I’m not saying that every time I see a deal on PM or PW I don’t jump out of my skin a little, but that’s only natural. In those moments I just keep reminding myself, this is your book. You’re writing it for you, not for anyone else. Enjoy it.
And I am enjoying it. I don’t think I’ve had so much fun writing a book in years; it’s a nice change of pace from what the last year or so has been like, writing-wise, for me, which is extraordinarily difficult and not nearly as rewarding as it once was. But this book is cool. Alex once said to me that she tries to write books that her brother would read, and for once I’m trying to do that, too. I’ve only got 60 pages of this book (let’s call it Book 3 for tagging purposes) and so far there has been a 2-on-3 physical fight and a car chase, and I plan for there to be escapes and imprisonments and espionage and betrayal and love and heartbreak and double-crossing and science! All in one book! One hopefully not 800 pages long book (I don’t think it will be that long, but Hallelujah is, inexplicably, like 400 manuscript pages, which is almost 100 pages longer than AUT and I do not know how that happened).
ALSO: Jeopardy! Man vs. Machine* starts tonight! I may or may not have made this clear in my last blog post, but I DVR Jeopardy! every night. Sometimes I watch them nightly, but most of the time I let them build up and watch them all in a row on the weekends. Right now I’m a little behind, but I’m going to be sure to watch tonight’s IMMEDIATELY. I love Jeopardy! I even violated my own very strict “no paying for iPhone apps” rule to download the $4.99 Jeopardy! app.
So that’s my life right now. Reading (I also plucked a copy of Diana Mosely: Mitford Beauty, British Fascist, Hitler’s Angel from my shelf; I’ve had it for a while, bought it for $5 at the Strand, because as you may or may not know I love anything having to do with the Mitfords and hope someday to read everything there is by or about them, but Diana is not my fave so I hadn’t actually ever started this biography of her), writing, and Jeopardy! You would think that would give me plenty of time to update this blog, but apparently that’s not true, although you might be interested to know that I do update my Tumblr way more often and recently I posted a bunch of songs over there that reminded me of The Opposite of Hallelujah, so you might want to head over there and have a listen.
*I don’t think that the Jeopardy! people are calling it this, that’s just what I’m calling it.
- Filed under: writing
- Tagged: book 3, Books, Jeopardy, reading, television, Tumblr, writing
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Posted on July 6th, 2010 by annakjarzab
I want you to know that I have about fifteen saved, unpublished posts living in WordPress right now. I can’t seem to bring myself to finish any of them. I blame a lifetime of English teachers for drilling the INTRO – SUPPORT – CONCLUSION five-paragraph essay into my brain. I’ve got the intro and support down fine, it’s just the conclusion I struggle with, and then I lose interest, and those posts languish in the queue until they don’t even make any sense anymore.
I’m still in a holding pattern where book 2 is concerned, but I’m happy to report that I’m hard at work on book 3–I talk about it here sometimes, it’s the supernatural thriller? It’s coming along pretty nicely. I wrote almost sixty pages of it this weekend, which is quite a lot. It’s almost 14,000 words. The book is creeping up upon 50,000 words, and I think it’ll be twice that, probably somewhere around 400 pages. Of course, I thought book 2 would come in at around 300 pages, like AUT did (here I’m talking about manuscript pages; book page counts tend to be slightly higher), but it came in at around 400 (108,000 words approx.), so you never really know.
I spent yesterday on my couch (which is, not surprisingly, where the only air conditioning unit in my apartment is located), writing. I was there for so long that my back was so cramped later. Sitting with a hot computer on your lap for eight plus hours is not a great idea in near-100 degree heat (I know! It’s so gross! Shut up with your heat wave New York!), but the productivity makes me feel good about myself. Although, it’s always a little depressing because I’m zero-drafting, which means that all the prose is really bad. Zero-drafting, for me, is about laying down the tracks, assembling the spine of the plot. It involves a lot of pushing myself to put words on the page, which is something I hate doing–pushing myself, I mean, not putting words on the page. But the thing is, I’m so excited about this book and where it’s going that I can’t wait to write all the good parts, and since I can’t write a book piecemeal, I have to race through the other stuff to get to the Big Reveal or the Action Sequence or the Romantic Moment. So I’m pushing. Which is okay. I’ll go back and layer in the description and the pretty phrases later. For now, I’m all about plot and dialogue. I just need to let go and let God on that front, I think. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Etc.
In other news, I’m rereading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows because I saw the trailer when I saw Eclipse on Friday (oh, we’re going there) and I got SO! PUMPED! Then I realized I’ve almost completely forgotten all but the most obvious details of that book, so I’m going back to it, even though book 7 isn’t my favorite. I rewatched Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and found myself less offended by the cuts than I was when I originally saw it (the fact that the film is called Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and yet that plot line was given only the most cursory of treatments was a major failing of the film, in my opinion) and more appreciative of the cinematography, acting, directing, and, of course, the series of scenes where Harry is high on drugs Felix Felicis.
- Filed under: Books, movies, writing
- Tagged: Book 2, book 3, Books, Harry Potter, movies, writing
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Posted on March 10th, 2010 by annakjarzab
OMG she’s blogging. Yeah, well, I’ve been busy. Busy writing? Oh God no, why would you think that? Okay, that’s not entirely true. I did revise Part 1 of Book 2. Oh, and I wrote a three page synopsis of a book I hope to write someday, a full-blown romance, which isn’t really my standard mode but always something I’ve wanted to do. And I figured out (mostly) how I’m going to fit the final pieces of the puzzle together for Book 3. Yeah, you heard right: Book 3. Because my natural inclination is to do something today that I could put off until tomorrow and put of until tomorrow that which I should do today. Awesome.
But I have some news. Lots of you have been asking if I’m doing any events for All Unquiet Things (that’s a joke, not one person has asked that except my mom), and the answer is that I am! I’m doing a couple of events in the New York area and a couple in Chicago. Here are the details for the events that have been confirmed:
April 1, 2010 at 7 PM
Best Bargain Books
217 Centereach Mall
Centereach, NY 11720
April 17, 2010 at 1 PM
Mysteries on Main Street
144 W Main St
Johnstown, NY 12095
May 13, 2010 at 4 PM
The University of Chicago
1010 E. 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
I’ll be adding events to the events page on the site as they’re confirmed, and announcing them here if I remember–which I probably will!
I’m excited about all of these events. The stores are so nice to have me, and each one is going to be cool for its own reasons. One of my best friends in life, Kim, lives very close to Best Bargain Books, so she’s coming to the event and threatening to bring coworkers. One of my other best friends in life, Jenny, is driving me up to the event in Johnstown. And the U of C event will be kind of surreal, because I’ll be reading from the very beginning of AUT: the same exact pages (give or take some small stuff, but in all other ways almost completely identical!) that I read in Classics 110 in April of 2007 during my Works in Progress presentation. And look at me now! Wait, don’t, I’m having a bad hair day.
Plus, my agent Joanna will be at the Chicago events, and I love spending time with her. Get ready for me, Windy City! And Centereach. And Johnstown.